Channel recruitment: Finders keepers
Kirsty Gilchrist, MD at Twogether, identifies the best way to identify and recruit the right channel partner
Partners who can make an immediate impact on your success, and who you will want to retain over time. Finding channel partners In the technology market place is easy.
From one-man-and-a-dog operations, to Fortune 500-listed Systems Integrators, there are plenty to choose from. Of course, depending on the size and type of your business, you’ll have a reasonably clear idea of the kind of partner you seek.
But here’s the thing. Although you may be the one doing the recruiting, it doesn’t mean you’re top of the food chain.
Two’s company, three’s the vendor. It’s nearly always the channel partner who holds the customer relationship.
Increasingly, a savvy partner becomes the trusted expert, helping with strategy as well as hardware, software or services. What matters to your chosen channel partner, and how can you leverage their capability to build your success?
Here are five ways to make sure everyone comes out of the process happy:
1. Build a reseller profile that aligns with your offering
Are your prospective partners in the right geographies? Do they have complementary skills and experience? Do their industry specializations match yours? Do you already have customers in common? Will your offering help them to develop their business (while contributing to yours)?
2. Understand your competitive positioning
How realistic are you about your business, and its position in the market?
Put yourself in a prospective channel partner’s shoes. Do they know of your products and reputation, or are you simply another blip on their radar? Will your approach be welcomed? Or will you be seen as just one more vendor to fill a niche in their portfolio?
Remember, even if you are successful, you’ll be pitching against your competitors for mindshare from Day One. It’s best get your message straight now.
3. Develop a competitive channel program
This is about your obligations to partners, not the other way around! Think ‘soup to nuts’ – from the margin partners can achieve, to helping increase their win rates.
Be clear about all you have to offer. Progressive rewards? Training? Free demo equipment? Make sure they understand the big picture you’re painting.
4. Provide a support structure to help them win
You’ve sold the dream. This is the grounded response to ‘How will it work?’
You have a great product, and high expectations that the right partner will be able to sell it easily. But make it clear you’re not just stuffing their inventory – the days of box-shifting are long gone.
Ensure they understand about your marketing tools, training, accreditation and certification programmes, technical support and so on.
The more comprehensive your offering, the more confident they can be with their customers. And the more likely they are to promote you above other vendors.
5. Bear in mind why they are called ‘partners’
Partners are independent businesses, so understandably they will always put their own interests ahead of yours. They were successful in their business before you came along.
That’s why, when you’re seeking to recruit new partners, remember the most important question you MUST be able to answer:
What’s in it for me?
Share your channel partner recruitment insights. And look out for more channel posts, coming soon.